County Clerk and Recorder Jennine Robbins and Elections Administrative Assistant Bobbi Christenson have put the fate of voting precinct boundaries in the hands of Sanders County Commissioners for consideration.
The proposal recommended by Robbins and Christenson would reduce the number of precincts from ten to six. The measure is being touted as a cost saving action that according to the Sanders County Clerk, Recorder and Elections Office will save the county over $30,000 during the next federal election.
Concern from citizens voiced at a recent hearing before county commissioners included worries that the measure would create issues with absentee ballots. There was concern that with a reduced number of precincts, more people would be inclined to use absentee ballots and they would subsequently be vulnerable to fraud or miscounted.
According to Christenson, “What we are looking at does not affect absentee balloting. It’s not going to affect peoples’ ability to vote.”
Christenson went on to say that the primary reason for combining precincts was as a cost saving measure. She reiterated that fewer judges, less equipment and supplies would save, according to their office, over $32,000.00 per election.
“Nothing will change except the boundaries. Voters will still be able to choose if they wish to drive to the polling place or not. If the voters choose not to drive to the polls, then absentee ballots would be an option for them,” said Christenson.
Sanders County Commissioner Carol Brooker said voters were also concerned that they would have to spend time in another community in order to vote.
“People value having a polling place in their community. We told them that we would look at their concerns. The commissioners are going to meet with the firm that is redrawing the boundaries and look at ways to make them more equitable in population,” said Brooker.
The county commissioners received the proposal Thursday afternoon and extended the deadline for public comment. No word was issued as to when a decision would be made by commissioners.